Your Child’s Diet & Eating during COVID-19

Firstly it’s important to remember that so far it has been widely reported that children have been less severely affected by the coronavirus. Nonetheless, it can be helpful to consider if there are any factors around a child’s diet, eating & mealtimes worth considering in the current circumstances!⁣

𝘔𝘺 𝘬𝘦𝘺 𝘵𝘢𝘬𝘦 𝘩𝘰𝘮𝘦 𝘮𝘦𝘴𝘴𝘢𝘨𝘦?⁣

‘Keep doing’… much of what you’re likely doing already and are likely to have always done anyway!⁣

My top tips around food & mealtimes are;⁣

𝐂𝐋𝐄𝐀𝐍 𝐒𝐔𝐑𝐅𝐀𝐂𝐄𝐒 where food is prepared, served & eaten!⁣

𝗪𝐀𝐒𝐇 𝐅𝐎𝐎𝐃𝐒 (as usual) such as fruit & vegetables – especially those loose that may have been handled by others ⁣

𝐇𝐀𝐍𝐃𝗪𝐀𝐒𝐇𝐈𝐍𝐆– before each meal and snack + alongside the current coronavirus general handwashing recommendations from the government

𝐌𝐀𝐈𝐍𝐓𝐀𝐈𝐍 𝐑𝐎𝐔𝐓𝐈𝐍𝐄- try to stick with a normal routine of meals & snacks for your child wherever possible. Cancellations of events, self-isolation and/or school closures have the potential to disrupt normal routines including mealtimes! Don’t forget to maintain a good sleep routine too 💤! ⁣

𝐀𝐕𝐎𝐈𝐃 𝐏𝐀𝐍𝐈𝐂- children are very receptive to anxiety & stress of others & this can have the potential to affect appetite. Try to remain calm, providing reassurance & routine.⁣

𝐕𝐈𝐓𝐀𝐌𝐈𝐍𝐒, 𝐌𝐈𝐍𝐄𝐑𝐀𝐋𝐒 𝐎𝐑 𝐒𝐔𝐏𝐏𝐋𝐄𝐌𝐄𝐍𝐓𝐒- unless you child is already having or requires a vitamin/mineral supplement there is no need to provide extra! Remember over-supplementation has potential risks too! Don’t be tempted to offer your child ‘immune-boosting’ products, herbal remedies or advice that does not come from a reputable health professional! ⁣

The best thing diet-wise is almost certainly…⁣𝐌𝐀𝐈𝐍𝐓𝐀𝐈𝐍𝐈𝐍𝐆 𝐀 𝐁𝐀𝐋𝐀𝐍𝐂𝐄𝐃 & 𝐕𝐀𝐑𝐈𝐄𝐃 𝐃𝐈𝐄𝐓⁣

Lucy Upton RD – Dietetic Lead

There is not one single “right” way to feed your child

Feeding children isn’t easy or straightforward despite what others may have you believe but please remember there really isn’t a one size fits all approach or just one way you need or have to go about it!⁣

Over the last 10 years I have seen that nutrition, eating and feeding children fills parents with so many conflicting emotions, from the joy of nurturing with nutrition, food and all of associated positive social and emotional effects, all the way through to the other end of the spectrum; guilt, despair and endless worry.⁣

Feeding your child (from the early days and beyond) is a topic often discussed relentlessly, “are you breastfeeding or formula feeding?”, “When are you weaning?”, “what approach are you taking with weaning?”, “do you let them have?” – it never seems to stop and it is easy for parents to seek the ‘right way’ in a sea of nutrition noise. There are parents who also have some choices removed – think food allergies, tube feeding or complex medical diagnoses.

Common feelings or phrases I hear from parents:⁣

“ I worry that they are not getting enough”⁣

“ Why won’t they eat….”⁣

“ He doesn’t eat the same as…”⁣

“ Should I be giving or excluding….”⁣

“Are they allowed…”⁣

“ Which way is the right way too….wean etc”⁣

“ Is it my fault they…”⁣

“ My [insert family or friend] said I should/shouldn’t…”⁣

“ Is this food/dietary choice ok?”⁣

“ I googled and it said….”⁣

“ I wish they could just…”⁣

Sound familiar???⁣

In fact, one of the reasons I love working as a Paediatric Dietitian is that whilst there are fundamentals that are important when feeding children, each child and their family will do things very slightly differently and that’s ok.

And with that in mind, let 2020 be the year you are kind to yourself and others surrounding feeding choices. Try to avoid falling down the trap of guilt, anxiety or comparison and if you are looking for advice about feeding your child, be wary of those promoting a one size fits all approach and look for professionals who provide information and advice which is not only evidence-based but considerate the different needs of each child & family. ⁣
Remember that you can raise a happy & healthy feeder, even with different roads you can reach the same destination. ❤️

Lucy Upton RD – Dietetic Lead

What should I do if I suspect my child has a food allergy?

How can I use this extra time at home to support my fussy eater?

𝐔𝐒𝐄 𝐄𝐕𝐄𝐑𝐘 𝐎𝐏𝐏𝐎𝐑𝐓𝐔𝐍𝐈𝐓𝐘 𝐓𝐎 𝐄𝐀𝐓 𝐓𝐎𝐆𝐄𝐓𝐇𝐄𝐑⁣

I’ll gladly be a broken record with this one- but I can’t emphasise the importance & benefit enough of sitting together & role modelling eating, feeding skills & behaviours! It’s essential in managing children’s eating & there seems to be more time for meals together at the moment, so make hay whilst the sun shines! ⁣

𝐎𝐍𝐄 𝐌𝐄𝐀𝐋⁣

With less opportunity to shop & more careful planning with meals why not try to get into a habit of making just one main family meal at least once per day (rather than everyone’s favourites!) – this combines family meal benefits (above) with experience & exposure (below)⁣

𝐁𝐄 𝐀 𝐓𝐄𝐀𝐌⁣

Get consistency with parent & family approach to managing feeding⁣

Has it become apparent that there is good cop & bad cop when it comes to your LOs eating? One of you topping up with preferred foods or chasing around with a spoon due to worries about food refusal & the other trying to stick with a clear routine ? I hear this one a lot, so use this time to get a consistent, unified response, plan & approach to feeding so your child has consistency (which is key to change)⁣

𝐄𝐗𝐏𝐎𝐒𝐔𝐑𝐄 𝐓𝐎 𝐍𝐄𝗪 𝐅𝐎𝐎𝐃𝐒 ⁣

Maybe you’ve had to deviate from your usual essentials, or have struggled to get your child’s preferred foods. Don’t panic! Use this opportunity for EXPOSURE to less familiar foods-yes they might be rejected & not eaten but repeated exposure to food is often essential on the journey to acceptance (which may take 15-20+ exposures- but you have to start somewhere!). Exposure isn’t just eating either – remember it’s looking, touching, smelling…using all those senses we have are essential for feeding!⁣

𝐄𝐗𝐏𝐄𝐑𝐈𝐄𝐍𝐂𝐄 𝗪𝐈𝐓𝐇 𝐅𝐎𝐎𝐃𝐒 𝐀𝗪𝐀𝐘 𝐅𝐑𝐎𝐌 𝐓𝐇𝐄 𝐓𝐀𝐁𝐋𝐄 ⁣

Take away some of the pressure of eating less familiar foods but allowing children to gain experience with foods away from the dinner table. Activities like; drawing foods, watching cookery TV (excuse for Saturday kitchen), cooking, baking, chopping, playing ready steady cook, growing fruit or veg in pots.

𝐑𝐄𝐅𝐋𝐄𝐂𝐓 𝐎𝐍 𝐘𝐎𝐔𝐑 𝐒𝐓𝐑𝐄𝐒𝐒 𝐋𝐄𝐕𝐄𝐋𝐒⁣

There’s no doubt it’s a stressful time at the moment but lots of parents have told me how useful it’s also been for reflection. Reflecting on your approach at the dinner table can be hard & shouldn’t be judgemental (but it can be beneficial), ask yourself questions like:⁣

“𝘋𝘰𝘦𝘴 𝘮𝘺 𝘤𝘩𝘪𝘭𝘥 𝘥𝘦𝘤𝘪𝘥𝘦 𝘩𝘰𝘸 𝘮𝘶𝘤𝘩 𝘰𝘳 𝘸𝘩𝘢𝘵 𝘵𝘰 𝘦𝘢𝘵 𝘰𝘳 𝘥𝘰 𝘐 𝘵𝘳𝘺 𝘥𝘰 𝘥𝘦𝘤𝘪𝘥𝘦 𝘰𝘳 force?”⁣

“𝘋𝘰 𝘐 𝘫𝘶𝘴𝘵 𝘳𝘦𝘷𝘦𝘳𝘵 𝘵𝘰 𝘱𝘳𝘦𝘧𝘦𝘳𝘳𝘦𝘥 𝘧𝘰𝘰𝘥𝘴 𝘣𝘦𝘤𝘢𝘶𝘴𝘦 𝘐 𝘸𝘢𝘯𝘵 𝘵𝘰 𝘣𝘦 𝘴𝘶𝘳𝘦 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘺 𝘢𝘳𝘦 𝘦𝘢𝘵𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘴𝘰𝘮𝘦𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘨?”⁣

“𝘞𝘩𝘦𝘯 𝘸𝘢𝘴 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘭𝘢𝘴𝘵 𝘵𝘪𝘮𝘦 𝘐 𝘢𝘤𝘵𝘶𝘢𝘭𝘭𝘺 𝘰𝘧𝘧𝘦𝘳𝘦𝘥…”⁣

“ 𝘈𝘮 𝘐 𝘶𝘴𝘶𝘢𝘭𝘭𝘺 𝘤𝘢𝘭𝘮 & 𝘳𝘦𝘭𝘢𝘹𝘦𝘥 𝘸𝘩𝘦𝘯 𝘐 𝘤𝘰𝘮𝘦 𝘵𝘰 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘵𝘢𝘣𝘭𝘦?”⁣

𝘈𝘯𝘺 𝘲𝘶𝘦𝘴𝘵𝘪𝘰𝘯𝘴 𝘢𝘣𝘰𝘶𝘵 𝘧𝘶𝘴𝘴𝘺 𝘦𝘢𝘵𝘪𝘯𝘨? Get in touch – book a call or via chat !!

 

Lucy Upton RD – Dietetic Lead